You know those places that you recognize from pictures but don’t know the name of? I was like that for the longest time with both Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I connected the dots and realized that both of those glorious places are within my home state and even better; within 10 minutes of each other!
For anyone not familiar with Horseshoe Bend it’s the (you guessed it!) horseshoe shaped bend of the Colorado River in Arizona. It’s a popular photo op spot and a quick glance at the #horseshoebend hashtag on Instagram will show you an endless stream of selfies taken there. It’s also a popular spot for professional photographers to grab a spectacular shot and put their wide angle lenses to use.
Most people visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend during the same trip and I’d recommend doing both in the same day if you’re going to make the visit to Page, AZ. If you’re traveling from Phoenix it will take about 4 hours to make the drive up north. Another popular option for those traveling from other states is to fly into Las Vegas and make the 4.5 hour drive from there – usually including making other stops (Grand Canyon anyone?) along the way. I’m going to be writing an entire post about Antelope Canyon so stay tuned for that soon!
Visiting Horseshoe Bend
Getting to Horseshoe Bend is painless and pointing Google Maps to it will lead you to the parking lot directly off the highway. The trailhead is easy to spot as there’s nothing else around and from there it’s a relatively easy 3/4 mile hike to the bend. I say relatively easy because after the little initial hill there’s a slight decline as you head down to Horseshoe Bend. Coming back up can feel a bit more strenuous especially as most of the trail is on sand. It’s easy enough for almost any traveler to handle but be prepared for it to take a little bit more time for someone who moves slow.
Tip: If traveling in the middle of summer be prepared for the sun as there is NO shade in the area. Wear sunscreen/hats and drink plenty of water.
From the trail it’s hard to tell what you’re about to see which I thought was kind of fun. This is the view of the hill by the parking lot once you’re down at Horseshoe Bend:
Once you make it to the bend you’re rewarded with an absolutely stunning sight to behold. Depending on what time of day you’re there the light will be different, the colors of the walls will look different, you’ll get different shadows, etc.
I visited the bend twice during my trip, once mid-morning and once at sunset. The sunset offers an amazing opportunity to take sunset pictures but I ended up preferring having the canyon more lit up. Oddly enough one of our visits had almost no wind and our other visit included some crazy strong wings. Be prepared for that possibility. It’s also expected that you will be joined by a lot of other people for the sunset pictures (the above picture was during the morning when there were very few people around).
Both of our visits ended up being a little less than an hour so it’s a fantastic addition to a day spent exploring Antelope Canyon or doing any of the other things that Page, AZ has to offer! I’d highly recommend adding it to your bucket list if it isn’t there already.